All posts by Colin McCloskey

Today, Awexome Labs released version 0.1.0 of our new gem HasHeartbeat. This Rubygem can be used by Ruby on Rails developers to add a lightweight heartbeat endpoint to their new and existing applications. Check out the gem source, now.

We extracted HasHeartbeat from work we’ve been using in production applications built internally and for clients over the past year. The premise is simple: add a route/endpoint/controller-action to your application that can be struck from a simple monitoring service that tells you basic things you need to know at a glance:

  • Is my application up and running?
  • Can my application connect to its database?

HasHeartbeat adds a /heartbeat path to your application, which responds with a 200 OK or 500 Error HTTP Status, as well as a helpful text response that is easily parsed by your favorite monitoring service. At your option, you can configure the heartbeat action to attempt to load a model from your database to verify that your application is successfully communicating with your database.

In practice, we’ve configured New Relic, Codebase, Pingdom, and client proprietary monitoring services against this feature set, striking the /heartbeat path on regular intervals and connecting that response to monitoring. It’s been a life-saver for tracking uptime, as well as providing detailed transparency of application availability to our clients — without forcing us to expose the internal workings of our hosting solutions.

Dropping in a working heartbeat endpoint is now as simple as adding “has_heartbeat” to your Gemfile.

Learn more about HasHeartbeat on github.
Check information on RubyGems.

 

Awexome Labs is now proudly featured in the Heroku Partners Program directory. We’ve been building our product and client applications atop the Heroku platform since the beginning and are happy to now be listed as a set of capable hands building experiences on Heroku worldwide.

Click here to check out the Awexome Labs listing in the directory.

Heroku is a “Platform as a Service” (PaaS) provider that we use to provide reliable, scalable, and secure cloud-based application hosting for our custom and internal applications. Their platform allows us to scale applications up and down quickly to both meet extreme demand and ultimately reduce the cost to our customers. Added capabilities including monitoring, secure browsing, issue notification, and database throttling have made it easier for us to build robust applications along the way.

We’re happy and excited to have our partnership with Heroku now official!

If you’re just starting out for the first time or find you need a refresher on designing in the Facebook realm, we’ve created a quick reference and crash course for you, and placed it — where else? — but on our Facebook Page.

Check out the Design School app on our page. Inside, you’ll have a quick reference to the ins and outs of asset planning, dimensions, and the most basic of Facebook user interface elements, including wall post and authentication dialogs. At a quick glance, you will learn about:

  • The difference between the Canvas and the Page Tab container
  • Pixel dimensions of typical iframe containers
  • Shapes and sizes of standard logos and icons your application will need
  • Example of standard dialogs used for authenticating users and sharing content in the News Feed

Click on through and pick all of this up in under five minutes!

Last week at their first marketing conference Facebook announced the fast-approaching introduction of Timeline for brand pages. On March 30, all brand pages will be ported to the new view format, which makes a number of significant changes to features that were possible in the previous/current layout.

At a high level, some of the most salient changes are:

  • Applications installed on pages, previously referred to as tabs, are now “Application Pages.” The navigation for applications moves from the left-hand sidebar to the top of the page and each application can feature a large, visual icon.
  • Applications can no longer be set as default landing pages for non-fans. This change will change strategies for growing audiences on your page to focus strongly on new features, such as…
  • Featured Posts now allow you to expand specific posts, photos, videos, and events in your brand’s history to a full width. This featured content is visually stunning and really sticks on your profile.
  • Pinned Posts allow you to stick any particular post to the top of your Timeline, which can assure that visitors see engaging and visually interesting content on their first visit
  • The biggest draw of a user’s eye will be the humongous Cover Photo at the top of your page. Just like personal Timeline profiles, the Cover Photo allows brands to feature their customers, brand identity and more in a huge, enticing image.
  • Custom applications installed on your page can now fit into a much larger space. The application canvas grows from a mere 520px to a very wide 810px. This allows custom applications to really expand and provide deep and sizable user experiences.

One of the best ways to learn about the upcoming changes is to check out Facebook’s “Learn About Facebook Pages” course. Follow along with interactive presentations and videos posted by members of their development and marketing teams. Check it out at http://www.learnfacebookpages.com/

These changes will significantly affect the strategies brand managers will have to employ in building out their page presence. Custom applications are now afforded a richer space to provide additional value to your fans, but focusing on deep engagement and taking advantage of new Featured and Pinned Posts on your Timeline will be the best way to attract new fans and grow your community.

Don’t forget to read Facebook’s FAQs and announcement of their new Facebook Pages format.

In the coming weeks, Awexome Labs will be posting more helpful tips, pointers, and tools that will help you navigate your page from the old format to the brand, spanking new Timeline.

We’ve released a small update to our DoesOpenGraph rubygem, useful for connecting to the Facebook Graph API in your ruby environments of all shapes and sizes.

The new minor version, 0.2.1, upgrades the gem’s dependencies to make integrating DoesOpenGraph in your current environments a bit easier. There are also some slight changes to the Readme documentation.

View DoesOpenGraph on github

Check out the figures and facts from the Rubygems page

While this is a very small fix release, we have a number of updates and changes planned for DoesOpenGraph in the future. Feel free to fork, follow, and use the project. We’re cooking up some enhancements in the areas of console access and a feather-light integration with lighter frameworks such as Sinatra.

1 Fan is Worth 20 Visits to Your Website

The ROI of social media for businesses is often discussed, but establishing an answer has never been easy. But Hitwise, the “leader in online competitive intelligence”, has arrived at a very precise formula for establishing the value of Facebook fans.

With nearly 700m users, Facebook is a behemoth – businesses shouldn’t ignore the potential value of tapping into such a large userbase. So how much, exactly, is a Facebook fan worth?

Well, Hitwise has leveraged its data sets and shown that 1 Facebook fan is apparently equal to 20 additional visits to a retailer’s website over the course of a year. So, if you have 1,000 Facebook fans, that means an extra 20,000 visits to your site.

Awexome LabsFirst things first — we are Awexome Labs. That first word is pronounced just like “awesome,” but with an X thrown in to jazz it up a bit. If you struggle with it, saying “Awesome Labs” is just fine with us.

The name imparts the strength and excitement of our work, but directly relates to a fun game from Homestar Runner from several years ago. Give that a whirl when you’ve got time for a laugh.

Welcome to the Awexome Labs blog. Here, we will post our thoughts, opinions, and recent work in the world of web and social media development. There’ll be a lot of ruminations about Facebook and Twitter, but also sound discussion of website and social media positioning for your small business.

We’ll also throw our hat into the ring of Ruby on Rails and other web development topics, so keep an eye out for those code-heavy posts, too.

We’re looking forward to sharing more with you on the blog as time goes on.

— The Awexome Crew